Carlos Rodon- Prize of the 2014 Draft

Bob Levey

No team in the history of Major League Baseball has ever selected first in the draft in 3 consecutive seasons. NC State's Friday starter might make it worth it for the Astros to become the first.

It's no secret around the Crawfish Boxes that the Astros organization is going through some hard times. The team selected Carlos Correa with the first overall pick in 2012 and have the dubious honor of picking first again in 2013. Unfortunately, the 2012 and 2013 drafts lack the uber-prospects that 2010 and 2011 did.

Carlos Correa is an excellent prospect, and whoever the Astros pick in June will be as well, but their duo will be closer to Tim Beckham and David Price than to Stephen Strasburg and Bryce Harper. However, the Astros might have something to gain by finishing at the bottom of the ladder one last time.

Behold, Carlos Rodon, ace of the North Carolina State pitching staff.

Rodon, a 6-foot-2 left hander, took the college baseball world by storm as a true freshman in 2012 with his 9-0 record, 1.57 ERA, 135/41 strikeout to walk ratio and 71 hits allowed in 114 2/3 innings. The unfortunately-not-a-draft-eligible sophomore was a 16th round pick of the Brewers in 2011. At that time, he was around 30 pounds lighter, weighing around 200, and threw between 88-92 MPH with his fastball. He was coveted for his projectability and potential plus slider, but decided to attend college and it is clear now that he made the right call.

Upon his arrival at NC State, Rodon dove into the school's strength training program and added significant bulk, and his fastball jumped all the way to 93-95, touching 97-98. His thick, muscular frame has allowed him to hold his velocity deep into games, and he pairs his four seamer with an 90-91 MPH cutter that keeps hitters honest. Though he possesses premium velocity, especially for a lefty, Rodon is not a one-dimensional pitcher. His slider is rated by some as a plus pitch, and he's developing a splitter to act as an offspeed offering. His mechanics are clean an easy- he repeats his delivery well and generates easy velocity.

Rodon looks like the clear frontrunner for the top selection in 2014. A lot can change in two years, but his freshman statistics, paired with the stellar scouting reports, make him an extremely exciting prospect. If the Astros fail to show improvement this season, we can take solace in the fact that Rodon would likely be on the way.

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